Fact or fiction: Can a rain barrel save you money?

Reader robblat asked about rain barrels: Are they useful? How much do they cost? Where do you get one? My wife just installed a rain barrel last year, so I asked her to explain how they work.

For my birthday last year, I asked my parents for a rain barrel. After doing some research online, I went to our local nursery and paid $100 for a complete barrel set up. While it will mean a small savings on our future water bills, the upfront cost is really too high to justify it from a purely financial standpoint. Instead, I wanted to collect rainwater for several other reasons.

Collecting a Renewable Resource For Our Own Use

Rainwater belongs to everyone, right? But for the most part, we are dependent on a vast infrastructure to collect, purify and deliver this most basic of life’s requirements to our doors (er, faucets). I like the idea of harnessing a bit of that rain before it makes it through the whole human system. My plants don’t need chlorinated water, anyway! Plus, anecdotal evidence on gardening websites suggests that plants do better with lukewarm rainwater than cold tap water.

Minimal Money Savings

If you are serious about reducing your irrigation water use from the municipal water supply (and thus your bills), you can rig up a system of multiple rain barrels. One or more is attached to the house’s downspout; the rest of the barrels are linked to the first ones to collect their overflow when it’s really raining.

Get this: if you have 1,000 square feet of roof surface area, then one inch of rainfall will produce over 600 gallons of rainwater. How big is your roof? I have my rain barrel hooked up to our detached garage (an old carriage house), and its roof is about 300 square feet. If you cut that in half (I’m only getting the rain from half the roof) and do the math, my 60-gallon rain barrel will be filled by just two-thirds of an inch of rainfall. In Oregon, that’s easy! The overflow drains through a tube that I have draped under the boxwood hedge, or I could collect it in a secondary container.


Our 3/5-acre lot has a grand total of one outside spigot, right by the house. Watering the far reaches of the gardens (vegetable, fruit, and flower) requires lugging hoses across the lawn and around trees. With the rain barrel at the garage, I can easily fill a watering can or bucket for the flower beds for some quick spot watering. While the gravity-fed flow of the rain barrel isn’t typically enough pressure to power a sprinkler, it would be enough for a short soaker hose. A rain barrel by the patio would be ideal for watering potted flowers and container plants near the house.

A Few More Considerations

Rain barrels come in many sizes and designs. Some are made to be pretty; others, not so much. Some are made from recycled or reused materials. A few have a flat side so they can sit flush against the wall, or have built-in storage for hoses and such. There’s plenty to choose from, but this is a bulky item, so avoid shipping costs and find a local store that stocks them. You may think a big plastic barrel isn’t your idea of garden décor, but what’s more fashionable than not wasting water?

You can certainly make your own if you are handy and have a source for a large food-grade barrel. It must be food grade so you aren’t having plastics leach into the water that you’re using to water your carrots. And be sure to have a screen to close it off. This will prevent mosquitoes from breeding in the barrel and keep leaves, mischievous animals, and small meteorites out.

Like any irrigation supply dependent on rainfall, sometimes you’ll have too much and sometimes not enough. July, August and September are pretty dry here (I kid you not), so my barrel did run dry last summer. But it doesn’t take much rain to fill it back up. I tend to do most of my flower garden-watering in the spring when I’ve just planted seeds and seedlings and they’re not fully established yet. The rain barrel is perfect for those dry, beautiful 75-degree days between our Spring rainstorms.

Watch the overflow location: you may need to extend the overflow hose to prevent drainage near your home’s foundation. Portland actually gives residents a one-time credit if the house gutters are disconnected from the storm sewer system. Rain barrels have been popping up like wild flowers in certain neighborhoods!

Today rain barrels — maybe in a decade or two, solar panels so we can go off the grid?

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There are 47 comments to "Fact or fiction: Can a rain barrel save you money?".

  1. baddriver says 19 May 2007 at 17:27

    “While the gravity-fed flow of the rain barrel isn’t typically enough pressure to power a sprinkler, it would be enough for a short soaker hose.”

    If you raised the barrel off the ground you would increase the amount of pressure delivered by the barrel. Each foot of height provides 0.43 PSI (pounds per square Inch) (from: http://www.howstuffworks.com/water.htm). Not much maybe, but it would help.

  2. Corey says 19 May 2007 at 17:30

    Thanks for the tips! This was a very interesting read. I was amazed at how many gallons one 1/4 of rain would produce.

  3. Max says 19 May 2007 at 18:17

    Our local county
    has a fairly enlightened view on water conservation and landfill diversion.

    They offer
    subsidized rain barrels for $30 (but only once a year). However, at the local landfill, they also offer free composters, and have a very good recycling program.

  4. A says 19 May 2007 at 18:29

    Bugs love to lay their larvae in water like that…

  5. beanspants1 says 19 May 2007 at 19:06

    plus you could dump a fish in the thing and blast at it, like grandpappy used to do!

    and i don’t know, at around $100, it might not be finacially viable in 1 year in a rainy state, but in a more deserty area, where watering restrictions during the summer are the norm, it probably does make fiancial sense in 1 year. the fines if they catch you illegally watering are around $100!

  6. Angie says 19 May 2007 at 20:00

    Hey! Nice to see this article make publication.

    We’ve caught rainwater in barrels and have used it in the garden for several years. We got ours from a municipal program for ~$60 each. They are filled and drained *multiple* times each growing season. I love ’em.

    Our first pair of barrels, back at our old house, are still going strong after maybe 8 years–no indication whatsoever that they’re going to wear out or anything. So the upfront costs may be pretty steep but over time I imagine we’ll at least break even, if not come out ahead on the water bill.

    I don’t think that plants suffer from being watered with chlorine-treated “city water”, but I do think it’s philosophically appalling that Americans use drinking-quality water for applications that just don’t need those stringent requirements–like garden-watering and toilet-flushing, for instance. So, I’m doing my little part to do it differently.

    I also have two little kids who like to “help water the garden”. Suffice to say that their “help” doesn’t very efficiently accomplish the stated goal much of the time. I hate to think of them wasting drinking-quality water while they water the patio, but I have no problem with the rain barrel water being put to that purpose.

    Click on my name for a link to a site describing a large-scale (7850 gallon) rain cachement system in use at a community center in Seattle. They use the water to flush the toilets in the building.

    That link says that “Less than 1% of the treated water produced by water utilities is actually consumed. The rest goes on lawns, in washing machines, and down toilets and drains.

    We expect to save over 30,000 gallons of potable water per year…”

  7. dimes says 19 May 2007 at 20:09

    I can’t think of rain barrels without thinking of that illustrious fellow who drowned his kids in his rain barrel, but whatever floats your boat.
    I never thought of meteorites being a concern either, but I guess growing Martian colonies in Oregon without a permit might be against the law. Too bad. 🙂
    I kind of have to wonder if this thing doesn’t create a false economy though.

  8. Kathy says 19 May 2007 at 20:19

    We got a number of food grade barrels through craigslist–in the Portland Oregon area, the price ranged from $20 to $35 late last summer. It’s on our list for next weekend to get them set up for garden irrigation for this summer.

  9. Gaming the Credit System says 20 May 2007 at 00:49

    “Small meteorites”! Ha! 😀

  10. borderguy says 20 May 2007 at 04:40

    There are some jurisdictions where the “Blue Nile Virus” mosquitoes live — like mine in Southwestern Ontario — where rain barrels are prohibited or at least strongly discouraged. If you want to stop the mosquito laying eggs you need a layer of biofriendly soap/oil mixture to cover the top so that the larvae can’t use their breather tubes to get air.

    That said, my next door neighbor collected all of his rainwater for years and deposited it into a pool — a cistern — where he used a solar-charged battery-driven electrical pump to water his rather enormous (subsistence sized) garden. That is, until the deer herd in our area multiplied out of control and ate everything; so no more garden.

  11. Denise says 20 May 2007 at 06:02

    I don’t know if West Nile has made it to Oregon yet, but any type of standing water is really *not* recommended in any area where West Nile exists, since it’s an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes.

  12. MizD says 20 May 2007 at 09:28

    Note for Portland area folks: Yoshida Foods International out by the airport has used 55 gallon food-grade drums for five bucks each. Call ahead to make sure they’re in stock as they go quickly!

  13. Norman says 20 May 2007 at 11:28

    West Nile posters-
    The rain barrel opening in the post (and mine) are covered with a fine mesh screen. Wouldn’t this keep out the mosquitoes?

  14. Josh says 20 May 2007 at 14:54

    Another option is to put the “barrel”/tank underground. Then you can get a large tank that won’t overflow and you can route ALL of your downspouts to it if you wish. Throw a small pump in there and you CAN run regular sprinkler & irrigation systems on it.

    Another option, which I’ve employed here, is to take my AC & dehumidifier’s condensate lines and routed them into a french drain that I have burried in trench below my garden. Even in the dry season, I find my garden plants growing quite nicely even when I’ve neglected to water them.

  15. Betsy Teutsch says 20 May 2007 at 17:08

    I like that you asked for this as a gift. I recently got a huge kick out of giving a couple a composting bin, which they had included in their gift registry. (they already head a rain barrel, courtesy of their local municipality here in Philadelphia.)
    Especially for weddings, you’re going to get gifts anyway, so including things like this which appeal to the eco-crowd is creative.

  16. yargs says 21 May 2007 at 07:23

    Is water from my 25 year old asbestos shingled roof with (probable)galvanized steel nails safe to use with vegetable or fruit plants?

  17. A J MARTIN says 21 May 2007 at 08:03

    Be sure to use mosquito dunks in any standing water…including your sump pump in the basement if you have one. West Nile is killing birds all over its range.

  18. IowaCitizen says 21 May 2007 at 08:05

    yargs – you’re right to be concerned about the surface of the roof from which the rainwater is collected. Surely asphalt can’t be good for plants we intend to eat. Maybe ok for grass?
    I’d be interested to know if others have info on this, or the effects of other surfaces: painted metal &c.

  19. borderguy says 21 May 2007 at 08:35

    @norman: I would think that a screen is good; but I would still put in a mosquito dunk (as mentioned by AJ Martin) or BTI to control the mosquito population.

    @yargs: I would get the water tested if there is any question in your mind.

    Generally, plants take up anything sprayed on them or taken up by their roots. So even if you are using rainwater you need to make sure that the water is clear of pollutants and and free of organisms. Remember that the spinach recall this past winter occurred because water containing e. coli bacteria was sprayed on the produce.

    Water open to contamination by either the collection system or in storage (by birds, for example) is not fit for use.

  20. jamie says 21 May 2007 at 08:37

    if you ever do install solar panels, please connect them to the grid so that others can benefit from them when they are overproducing and so that you can benefit from the grid when the panels aren’t getting the sun they need. “off the grid” systems are more complicated and require expensive battery systems, while “grid-tied” systems allow you make sure all the electricity generated by your system gets used and might even allow you to sell your excess electricity back to the utlity!

  21. Lynn says 21 May 2007 at 11:06

    My parents have a large rain barrel and they use a goldfish to keep the bugs down. I don’t think they even have to feed it for most of the Summer. When the weather cools off and the bugs go away, they scoop it up and put it in a small tank in their kitchen. They’ve had the same $2 goldfish for 3 years.

  22. glh says 21 May 2007 at 12:25

    If you’re a portlander, Check out http://www.Harvestthesky.com – this local service has great info and will install them for you. Plus, if you have a chinook book you can receive a discount at harvest the sky. (chinook is also fun bc it easily pays for itself and makes a great idea source for dates out with your sweetheart.) Rainbarrels and drip irrigation are definitly next on my landcaping wish list.

  23. Kris says 21 May 2007 at 17:21

    Readers have brought up good questions about mosquitos and the safety of using roof run-off water. I’m by no means an expert, but here are my semi-educated answers. If anyone has links to more fact sources, please send them my way.

    Re: mosquitos. West Nile is probably on its way to the Willamette Valley, so providing a mosquito breeding ground is definitely something to avoid. As I said, the rain barrels have a mesh screen across the top. I had thought this would serve to prevent mosquitoes from choosing my rain barrel as their love nest, but I’ll try to check for larvae at various points this summer and report back.

    Re: asbestos from roofing material. Asbestos is a respiratory hazard, so breathing its fibers (it’s a mineral) is bad, but it’s not generally water soluble, so if the shingles are degrading, the material may end up as sediment in the rain barrel. And, you’ll be pleased to know, according to this site, thousands of miles of city water pipes are made with asbestos cement pipe. Nice.

    Re: Other rooftop contaminants. Unless your roof is relatively new, most volatile components that were going to wash off have probably already done so. An exception would be leaded paint if you have old painted gutters. Plus, the water is not in contact with the roof for very long, so it doesn’t really have time to dissolve the roof. But it sits in the barrel for a while, so it could dissolve the plastic, especially a black plastic barrel sitting in the sun on a hot summer day. Make sure your barrel is food-grade. If your roof is old and is degrading, the particles may end up in the rain barrel if they can fit through the mesh. Might be a good idea to disconnect and empty the barrel every year or so, although I haven’t read of anybody recommmending this.

    Re: birds. I guess I’m taking a calculated risk on this one. Birds fly over my garden all the time, pooping willy-nilly, and I have done nothing to prevent them. In fact, I welcome the fertilizer. Any parasite or microbe from bird poop in my rain barrel is going to have to survive submersion in water, then get into the soil and be absorbed by the roots, and unconverted, still live in the carrots to be passed on to me. I’m no biologist, but it seems I’m at a higher risk by walking barefoot in my lawn. But, we all value risks differently. As JD says, do what works for you!

  24. Alfonso says 22 May 2007 at 00:40

    From experience:
    my former in-laws built their house almost off-grid; only electricity. they built their house with three water tanks: collection, use and storage. the last one is undergroud and the largest, almost a thousand litres. the first one is the smallest.
    water goes from tank one to three, and a pump is needed to fill the second tank.
    they live in a ver forested area, almost rain-forest-like, above 1000 metres above sea level.

  25. Steve says 24 May 2007 at 00:02

    Seems a little expensive. Over here in the UK i paid 30 UKP (about $60), that includes 17.5% tax, but I got a 200L barrel with stand and diverter kit.

    Acually its not a true barrel, more an open container with childproof lid. It filled in less than half a day (good old british weather!), so I went out an got another, and joined the two together. I pay 2$ per cubic meter of water, so I guess the payback will be quite a long time, but they will last, and rainwater is better for the plants anyway

  26. KMull says 24 May 2007 at 19:07

    very interesting link, j.d. always interested in hearing about more ‘green’ ideas.

  27. Jill says 28 June 2007 at 08:37

    I had held off on getting a rain barrel, mainly because of the steep $100 price tag at my local shop. During a time of drought, I decided to create a crude rain barrel system with two 20 gallon trash cans under my downspouts. I was amazed at how quickly they filled with only light rainfall. To think all these years I’ve been letting valuable water drain into the sewer! Since I live in an area where West Nile is a problem, I knew that I had to figure out a way to either cover this water source or transfer it. I bought two, larger trash cans with lids. Everytime it rains I transfer the water from the crude rain barrel with a bucket into the other trash cans with lids. So far, I have over a 100 gallon storage capacity and only spent around $50. While it takes a little more muscle and attention, I don’t mind it, since I could use the exercise anyway. But I am also someone who prefers to water my plants with a bucket instead of a hose.

  28. Megan says 18 July 2007 at 08:15

    While most plants won’t suffer too much from city water (unless your water is extremely hard), carnivorous plants, many orchids, and other more finicky plants would prefer rainwater. Much cheaper than the alternative, which is a Reverse Osmosis filter…

    Rainwater is also a good idea for the fan-type humidifiers, that will otherwise leave white dust all over everything around them.

    An alternative to a rain barrel is a “Rain Garden”, designed to control and buffer runoff before it gets into streams.

  29. austin says 28 September 2007 at 08:49

    i put a rain barrel on 500 square foot (half) of my roof last week. last night, we experienced our first good rain for the Fall. the 0.51 inches of rain filled the 55 gallon drum and overflowed. It spilt into the yard for several hours…makes ya think about how it ends up bleached or overflowing in the river with all the ….. i’ll just call it CSOs……

  30. Jon Elliotte says 10 November 2007 at 12:50

    If you live in the Portland area you can indeed save money by having a rain barrel on your property. Rate payers can recieve up to 100% discount on their stormwater charges by managing the stormwater run off on their property. For more information on this go to http://www.rainbarrelman.com

  31. Rain Man says 06 March 2008 at 12:12

    Want more pressure? Check this out:


    There must be a better way to capture and reuse water…

  32. Rick Saffery says 01 May 2008 at 09:43

    Rain barrels are a terrific idea. It’s nice to see them come back in to vogue.

    Consider my simple twist on this application. I use a battery operated pump that delivers 200gallon/hour flow rate. This is equivalent pressure to most residential taps. No need to rely on gravity!


    This pump becomes practical when you use rechargeable NiMH batteries.


    The pump cost is competitive when compared to using spigots. This is directly evident when the number of barrels increases. The batteries recharge in 15 minutes and may be recycled at least 1000 times. Battery run-time is 5 hours, talk about synergy!

  33. Bob says 21 July 2008 at 13:53

    There is no single answer to this task. I have been doing it slowly to see what works best for my situation, which is complete recovery from a 1600 sq ft roof split level. I’m currently at 8 barrels which drain 5 different downspouts. I will likely ramp up to 10-15 barrels once I determine where additional capacity is needed. As of July 2008 I’m getting barrels as needed from Yoshidas for $10 each. Call and ask for shipping, but they always have one or two whenever I’m in the neighborhood, and two barrels easily fit in the back of a newer legacy wagon. The barrels usually contain about a quart of some nasty food concentrate so keep a tarp in the car to protect the interior. To clean the barrel, drain as much as possible into a trash bag in a small trash can. Then add a pint of water and roll around, drain, add more water, and repeat 4 times. The stuff you pull out WILL attract bugs, so dispose carefully and don’t spill.

    Each barrel has a 2″NPT cap and a 2″ cap of a coarser (unk) thread. I’m currently using 2″ NPT male-threaded PVC adapters with 2″ PVC pipe connected to a flexy downspout adapter. The inside of each cap is threaded with a 3/4″ NPT knock-out which can be used for an overflow pipe. This way one only has to cut and thread one hole for the outflow at the bottom of the barrel, or two if connected to other barrels. My outflow is through 1″ outer threaded NPT fittings, either with a 3/4″ NPT inner thread to attach a hose bib, or a 1″ stab-connector to connect barrels with 1″ clear vinyl hose. Barrels in series move unevenly when they are filling so a rigid connector between barrels is prone to leak or break. Also, barrels in series can each have an overflow tube. Having the primary overflow come out the top of the drum allows one to use the full capacity of the barrel. I may also connect an additional overflow near the top of the inlet tube if that becomes a problem, which is usually 2-3 ft higher than the overflow through the cap. Also, using the existing threaded holes keeps the barrel sealed up against bugs. The cost of fittings for each barrel is about $5-15, more if it is the barrel that receives and dispenses the water, less if it is just a storage barrel in series with others. Another alternative is the black plastic ABS fittings, which have a 2″ NPT adapter, and the advantage or larger hose sizes to move more water towards the barrels. ABS needs its own special ($3) glue. Unlike downspouts, closed PVC and ABS pipe systems can move water uphill within reason as long as the source is higher than the end. I also have each barrel set up on 3 8×16″ concrete blocks for additional outflow force.

    As for cost savings, there is the initial storm sewer disconnect rebate for downspout, and I estimate about $6/month for reduced storm water fees, plus the water I don’t have to buy to water plants. With garden use at 10 gallons a day, 12 barrels could take me through a 2 month summer drought. I expect to recoup all the money spent (around $250 for 12 barrels) in 3 years. I’m doing this now as I expect barrels to become less available, and the cost of utilities to go up dramatically. And having 600 gallons of water stored on-site is a good hedge against an environmental disaster, be it earthquake or volcano. Email if you have questions.

  34. Bob says 04 October 2008 at 12:08

    Followup to 7/21 posting.

    After some recent rainstorms I have changed a few things. I’m now using 3/4″ PVC ball valves for the outflow when possible as the brass hose bibs have a smaller aperature that easily clogs with small debris and/or chunks of moss that break off the roof. I still use a 1″ threaded opening at the bottom of the barrel. The sequence is 1″ NPT-3/4 PVC adapter, 3/4 PVC stub, 3/4 ball valve, 3/4 PVC stub, 3/4 PVC T, 3/4 PVC to destination, or a short 3/4 PVC stub to a 3/4 PVC- 3/4 NPT adapter for a garden hose. This is straight through and can be cleaned with a dowel. I now connect the 3/4 PVC overflow from the 2nd 2″ cap in the top to the outflow at the T junction, which reduces the amount of pipe leading away from the drum. If you want to use a brass hose bib, they make one called a boiler drain valve which has a larger internal aperature.

    I added new gutter drains at the back of the house where the most water is used and diverted water to them with 2×4 blocks glued in the gutter. I located 2″ round drop tube adapters locally which are easy to install through a 2″ hole made with a hole saw in the gutter and easily sealed with silicone caulk. These fit cleanly into the ABS drop tubes.

    I am liking ABS more for the inlet tubing since a wider variety of intermediate fittings (22.5 and 60 degree) are available and the cost of the tubing is 60% less than PVC. One can also buy 3″ to 2″ reducer couplings that can contain the existing downspouts or drop tubes.

    I have one downspout with about 500 sq ft of roof that is located right next to the front door in the center of the house where it is impractical to locate barrels. This empties into a 3″ ABS pipe that drops 2 ft underneath the porch, 20 ft across the front of the house at ground level, and then back up 3 ft to the top of a barrel where it is reduced to 2″ at the inlet cap. The top of the ABS pipe is 6 ft higher than the top of the barrel and so far it has moved water without overflowing.

  35. Dan Chapotelle says 06 October 2008 at 07:59

    Good for you – we have 7 rain barrels and are on a meter. Water prices are increasing at about 9% a year and our city includes our water savings based on what people not on meters pay with our statements. We save over $250 a year according to them so have to wonder why it takes 3 years for your payback.
    Check out our web site, you may like what you see. The Garden Watersaver kit is North Americas fastest growing downspout diverter
    with over 20000 sold so far this year.


  36. terri says 06 October 2008 at 08:24

    rainbarrels are great if you live where you get rain year round. in the arid Southwest we get no rain from March to Oct. I have a 3,000 gallon tank to capture rainwater for my modest vegetable garden and am putting in another tank of the same size because I have to supplement with well water. Rainbarrels are not practical here

  37. Bob says 09 October 2008 at 09:40

    Dan, we get a rebate based on storm water diversion only, which is around $6/mo. Our water cost is IIRC $1.50/100 cu ft or 750 gallons. I figure I can probably use 3000 gallons of water from barrels in the spring/summer for additional yard and garden watering and replenishing my Koi pond, so I figure about $75-80 year total savings. Are you using rain-barrel water in the house? By the time we deal with permits and other hassles this isn’t practical here, even for use in gravity fed toilets.

  38. SJE says 28 November 2008 at 17:11

    Our town is offering a 50% tax credit – so the upfront cost is lower now. They are talking about hiking water rates to double in the near future. So why wait to install one so that the $ justify themselves for immediate payback – do you calculate a car the same way, probably not…. and it’s just the right thing to do, right now. I got a huge 80 gallon unit that was easy to put together from http://www.aquabarrel.com

  39. Raoul says 05 December 2008 at 06:22

    For just about all the information you could possibly need and other things to take into consideration about Domestic Rainwater Harvesting Systems : http://www.RainTankDepot.com

  40. Chris says 30 December 2008 at 11:40

    I saw this and bought three. http://www.raintankdepot.com/product.aspx?id=1231
    I’ll report back after I get them set up. Raoul was right – all the info you could ever want about rainwater harvesting is there.

  41. Raoul says 22 April 2009 at 06:26

    I just got an e-mail from http://www.RainTankDepot.com ‘s mailing list that is an Earth Day sale on 4/22 on Rain Barrels and Composters. Use code “CPNEARTHDAY” for 10% off.

  42. Chuck Spidell says 08 August 2009 at 00:56

    For the fellow Portlanders:

    Yes, $10 a pop for white barrels. Give them call at 503.284.1114 and ask for “shipping.” Once your connected to the department, let them know you’d like to purchase 55 gallon food barrels and the quantity. Be sure to bring exact cash. They don’t take credit cards. Here’s the address:

    Yoshida Group
    8440 NE Alderwood Rd
    Portland, OR 97220


  43. Caroline says 06 April 2010 at 10:33

    For Portlanders, the Yoshida people are very nice and it is still $10 per barrel.

  44. Owen says 28 April 2010 at 12:42

    I got my rain barrels from a local guy for free, they were used for the soap in a car wash. It took some cleaning but wasn’t bad. Got all the components I needed at Lowes. Didn’t keep track of what I spent, have two more to make and will do so for them. I have two barrels in operation, I used the threaded openings for my intake from the gutter. Not sure about mosquito’s yet been in operation for about a week and we are still not in the bug season yet. One barrel is for my peach and apple trees, these are on a slope down away from the house and there is no problem with flow there. The other barrel is for my vegetable garden which is at the same level as the house but about 40 feet away. So far I have been carrying buckets but plan on putting in a drip system. You need to put in a pressure reducer for using a drip system with house pressure so I figure it should be ideal for the barrel. I might have to lift the barrel up a foot or so. I have been amazed at how much water you can harvest with these barrels, can’t wait to get the other two up running.

  45. John Elliott says 28 April 2010 at 19:19

    Owen, As you have probably already discovered, that reducer will not work on your rain barrel. The pressure that comes out of your house spigot is between 40-80 psi with the reducer going down to 8-10 psi. Your barrel on a two foot stand would be about 2 psi. (psi being .43 per foot) I dont know of any store that sells water reducers or timers that go down to 2 psi. Mainstream america hasn’t caught on to low pressure systems yet. We carry special drip irrigation kits for very low pressure systems and timers that will work at zero psi! Check us out.

  46. Owen says 29 April 2010 at 05:11

    John, guess you didn’t understand what I meant to say, because the rainbarrel is a low pressure system, a drip system should work because you wouldn’t have to use a pressure reducer like you would if you used the water system from the house. I haven’t tried it yet and not sure I will, the whole idea behind the rainbarrel concept is to save money. Drip systems are expensive. I like taking the watering can, filling it up and watering each one of my plants, checking on it’s progress and weeding as I go, much more interactive. After all this garden will help feed my family it is all about being self sufficient, besides it is healthy for the body and the mind to get out there and work the garden, at least for me anyways, besides what if the timer failed, kindof defeats the purpose of the whole thing.

  47. Lance Harris says 24 September 2010 at 13:05

    Reading the post here it seems like a good idea to get some rain barrels and try this out. I have 5 down spouts and I think I’ll put one at every down spout. On Sat. 9/25/10 Clackamas county is hosting a truckload sale. You can get a systern rain barrel for $45.00 at 150 Beavercreek Rd., Oregon city Between 9 AM and 3 PM. Seems like a goo deal.
    For winter would it be best to drain the rain barrels or just let them be?

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